These aren't necessarily the best meals in town. They're definitely not your favorite. But these are the meals I remember eating and particularly enjoyed having this past year. 

In no particular order:

1. Limamar - Spoons Nikkei

 

NOTE: Their website is down, so I'm not sure if this is exactly what it's called. I'm also describing it from memory.

If you didn't know, there's a new Peruvian joint downtown. If you did know there was a Peruvian joint downtown but just couldn't remember the name, it's Limamar. This place is different. It's NOT for everyone. But if you're a little adventurous this place is worth the trip. The food, much like the decor, is literally indescribable. As in, I don't know how to properly convey the taste of either. It's not Asain. It's not Mexican. It's not Mediterranean. It's it's own thing. Kind of like how everyone all of a sudden discovered what "umami" was about a decade ago.

Anyway. The dish there that I will remember is their Spoons Nekkei. Six bites carefully prepared on 6 large spoons (the kind you use with pho.) On each spoon is smoked salmon with some sauce rolled together, then stood on end and topped with salmon roe. Not only one of the best but easily the most memorable dish I had this year.

2. La Casa Boricua - Carnitas

La Casa Boricua

If you didn't know, there's a Puerto Rican joint in Loves Park. If you did know there was a Puerto Rican joint in Loves Park but couldn't think of the name, it's La Casa Boricua. Much like Limamar, the menu can be intimidating, and also like Limamar (and every place on this list) the people here are more than willing to walk you through the menu.

That's how I had their carnitas. The wife, of the husband/wife team that runs this place, walked me through the entire menu before we landed on the carnitas and I was back the next day for more. Perfectly crisp on the outside, melty tender pork on the inside, and nicely seasoned. I definitely remember when I first had them.

3. Nunzio's - Sausage, Pepperoni, Onion, and Garlic Pizza

Nunzios Facebook

When I say this I mean Nunzio's for me. It might be Lino's, or Pino's, or Pietro's, or Sam's, or Capri to you. But it's whatever Rockford pizza means to you. And if you're from the area, then you know exactly what I'm talking about.

4. Pho Square - Beef Combo Pho

Rob Carroll

If you haven't had Pho (pronounced fuh, but no one really cares), you're missing out. Not only is this Vietnamese noodle soup delicious, but it might also be the best cold remedy out there (I've heard they do wonders for a hangover as well.) There are a couple of places to get pho in town, but these guys are my favorite. Everything there is great and they are literally the nicest people I've ever had wait on me.

5. Fiesta Cancun - Chile Colorado

<Sorry, can't find a picture>

Fiesta Cancun has been around for a while but I just found this dish this year. The chile colorado is chunks of beef simmered in a spicy thick sauce and served with rice and beans with tortillas on the side. It has become my go-to Mexican order when tacos are not involved.

These were the top 5 things I remembered eating in Rockford last year. Looking forward to seeing what 2020 will bring.